Can you forgive the person who says I love you and then assaults you? You might consider it unforgivable as that is not love and you might think you’d have nothing more to do with that person. However, what if your boyfriend did that to you? Maybe, you couldn’t be so quick to call it quits with the relationship. Under the name of love, many criminals have done harm to their partners, both physical and mental.
Do You Love Me? Distorted Love
‘Want to know’, a popular TV show in Korea focuses on issues currently having a deep impact on society, recently broadcasted a documentary on dating violence last April. TV viewers expressed anger and outrage after watching the show. On the show, one young woman, aged 22, was murdered and later buried by her boyfriend. Another woman, a university student, accused her ex-boyfriend of assault. He attacked her with the knife he used for cutting fish. In an interview, the assailant claims the knife fight was bilateral, so although he admitted stabbing his girlfriend, he complained about being unjustly treated. He also said his love was so strong that he stabbed her out of jealousy. However, his words only strengthened others’ opinions of him; they say he was hiding his violence tendencies under the name of love.
Dating violence is any type of violent behavior that occurs between a couple such as rape, sexual harassment, physical hostility, verbal abuse, mental abuse, public ostracizing, and stalking. With all these possible violent dating situations, you might have even experienced some of them or engaged in violence yourself.
Dating violence has increased. According to research researched form 2010 to 2014 by Park Namchum, assembly worker for The Minjoo Party of Korea, dating violence has increased to more than 306,480 reported incidents. Among these reported incidents, 13,252 were cases in which the victim was injured, 14,675 cases were related to assault, 542 cases ended in murder, and 2,324 cases were said to be rape-related. Data also found that 76.5% of the assailants were second time offenders according to the report ‘Present condition and Plan for Date Crime Laws’ by the Korean Institute for Public Order Policy.1) Second time dating assault offenders are common in Korea because the punishment is low, and date crimes are classified as minor crimes.
Also, most people in their twenties to thirties claimed to have been assaulted during a date. According to the National Police Agency, from February to March, the number of reported cases of date crime was 2,281. Among these incidents, 58.3% were reported by people in their twenties and 1,038 cases were reported by people in the thirties. Victims of date crime were mostly women at 1,526, but there were also 70 males who reported being victims of date crime.2) These findings clearly show that more women are the victims of date crime than males.
The Seed of Ruin
Why is violence on dates increasing? The foremost reason is the lack of harsh punishments for offenders. One type of date crime is stalking. Victims of stalking undergo enormous mental agony and endure limitations on their freedom, but their assailants, if convicted, face only up to 80,000 won in penalty fines. If the crime occurred between people with no relationship, the accused may be tried under special sexual violence laws; however, because the act took place between people in a relationship, people think it isn’t sexual violence. Thus, it interrupts that the dating violence is treated by special law for sexual violence. For example, one episode of ‘Want to know’ that was aired on April 8 in 2016 showed an interview with one woman who had gone to the police claiming that she was the victim of sexual assault. The woman said the police officer she spoke to maintained that she was alleging an attack had occurred because she’d broken up with her boyfriend. Had she still been dating her boyfriend, she would have never accused him of a crime and engaged in the sexual act out of love. The police officer said he was only offering her that advice out of genuine concern for her, so she left the police station more confused and withdrew her accusation. Because Korea does not have harsh punishments for date crimes, second offenses take place easily, and the chance of engaging in a second time offence is 76.5%.3)
The second reason could be that the violence takes place between couples, so it is not always easy to identify the criminal; i.e., it is unclear who the victim is and who is the assailant. Assailants will explain the act in a manner than does not leave them in a dark light. Lee Mikyung, a manager at the Korean Sexual Violence Relief Center, said, “Most datecrime assailants are morally indignant about date violence being broadcasted on TV. However, when they assault their partners, they do not view it as the same thing. They see themselves differently from the date criminals on TV. Some also say it was not a crime but an act of love to save the relationship.”4) Victims often, in order to avoid public ridicule, forgive their partner for the crime upon hearing the person apologize for the behavior and promising it will never happen again. Park Donghyen, a psychologist, said “Assailants believe that by begging for forgiveness, their partner will forgive them and all will be fine. Also, victims believe their assailant will never assault them again after requesting forgiveness.”5) Some victims also fear that assailants may harm them by exposing their personal photos or uploading explicit videos of the couple on to a SNS or passing those photos or videos onto friends and family, especially if the victim is about to break the relationship.
To Keep the Apple
To resolve and prevent crimes, there is movement to establish new stronger laws that are aimed at preventing date crimes. One such movement is Adoption of Clare Law, which makes it possible to view her assailant’s complete history of violence. This law was first introduced in England in 2009 after a girl named Clare was killed by her partner who had a history of violent tendencies. Also, since that time a special law was founded for date crimes. The new law requires any ambulance worker or medical team officer who learns of a date crime occurring must report it immediately. According to the law, if a judge determines a victim needs protection, the judge can issue a court order limiting the distance a person may get to the victim, sentence the person to probation. Actually, in Bucheon the police station receives a warning, detailing a victim’s location when he/she calls 112 or pushes an emergency button. The system was put in place to prevent date crimes.
Also, Bucheon now has police officers who deal with these special victims and reported cases of date crime. Also, because of the number of university female victims, every university is addressing date crimes. Universities are holding lectures that educate students on date crimes which are often overlooked by both victim and assailant, and specific centers on campus have been established to help victims properly. Before the situation worsens and to prevent date crime from occurring, universities are initiating preventative measures. In Cheongju, four universities have collaborated to host combined campus lectures and for first year female university students, the universities introduce students to the Cheongju Women’s Hotline. At Mokwon University in Daejeon, police hosted an event that campaigned against date violence on April 7 in 2016. They distributed brochures on the various crimes that may occur and met university representatives to assure them that the police would be adamant in their endeavor to stop date crimes and investigate all reported cases. Until now, Sookmyung Women’s University has yet to create a violence against women center on campus, but it has been active in its aspiration to help victims. Still, greater effort is needed to prevent violence that happens between young university couples on a date.
True Apple of Eyes
Jeong Seonhui, a representative for Changwon Women’s Hotline, said “Among people seeking counseling, almost half of them are university students in their twenties. Whenever date crime occurs, most students try to pretend it didn’t happen, so they don’t deal with it reasonably.”6) Look around yourself. You might know some victims of date crime. You might even be one yourself and not even realize it. Love comes in many forms, but it does not show itself in violence. Violent behavior is not love. If you are the victim of any type of violence, don’t hesitate to report it. The person does not love you. Seek help and receive love from people who will show you sincere love. Please, think deeply the true meaning of love. Is your love life healthy? Enjoy your affluent green days with love that blooms beautifully.
1) Kim Min, ‘Dating violence, Real and Shocking… Be afraid of Partner,’ Focus news, April 24, 2016
2) Lim Jongmyung, “6 in 10 among people in their twenties and thirties are Date Crime Assailants”, Newsis, April 17, 2016
3) Same as footnote 3
4) Jang Minhye, “’Want to know’ the Seriousness of Date Crimes … Misconceptions by Assailants”, Sporttoday, April 9, 2016
5) Same as footnote 3
6) Kim Minji, “In University, Lector for Dating is increased. Lector for Dating Violence is ‘…’”, The Kyungnam Ilbo, April 9, 2016